Driving across country in a beat-up 1973 Mustang, feeding his insatiable post-college wanderlust, a then 22-year-old Phil Reisman ’76 had a striking thought. “Maybe I’ll apply to journalism school.”
Not realizing the monumental impact of this idea—which never came to fruition—Reisman began his 37-year-long, seemingly haphazard, journey to become one of the county’s most respected journalists.
As a columnist for the Journal News in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, Reisman has made a name for himself as a political pundit covering Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties.
Interviewing everyone from elected officials to area residents for his weekly web broadcast and delving into his personal life for his triweekly column, Reisman’s work is rife with sharp-tongued repartee and skillful interpretation of local events.
Reisman, a history graduate, admits he wasn’t thinking about a career as an undergraduate.
“I was just trying to get an education and broaden my horizons, which I know is considered insane now,” says Reisman.
He took a sampling of classes, ranging from English to chemistry to government. “By the time I was a junior, there were three department heads who thought I was majoring in their areas.”
After graduation, Reisman got word of a newspaper starting up in New York City and jumped at the opportunity. The paper tanked after four months. He drifted back to his hometown, Maromeck, where he was hired as a reporter for Daily Times, a Gannett paper that merged with other local dailies in 1998 to become Journal News.
Reisman was a reporter for eight years, writing stories now embedded in Westchester history like the 1983 riot at Sing Sing Prison. He was promoted to metro editor and held the job for four years.
He settled into his less stressful role as metro columnist, which he says he much enjoys over reporting and editing. “When you’re writing a column, you have to have a little more spirit in it,” he says. “You want to own it a little more and to do that, you have to feel right about it. I found that it was fun.”
Editor’s Note: Adapted from “The Long, Winding Road to Phil Reisman,” The Eastchester Review
(March 31, 2014), copyright 2014, used with permission.